The Commission on Elections (Comelec) seemed to have shut the door on a previously cherished commissioner only a day after Malacañang said the official had not been reappointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Wednesday said the body can still perform its electoral functions even without the presence of apparently disgraced Commissioner Grace Padaca.
According to Brillantes, there is no urgency for President Aquino to appoint a seventh commissioner for the Comelec, saying they have just the right number for their meetings to be declared valid.
“Our [commission en banc]minimum is four members to have a quorum. With six current members, we are more than okay, so there is no urgency yet for an appointment of a seventh member,” the Comelec chairman said in an interview.
He explained that Padaca’s absence has only a minimal effect on the Comelec since they are still in the early phase of their preparations for the 2016 national and local polls.
On Tuesday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. confirmed that Padaca has not been issued an ad interim appointment by the President after she was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA).
“We have verified that no new appointment has been issued as of now,” Coloma said.
Under the Constitution, ad interim appointments shall be effective only until disapproved by the CA or until the next adjournment of Congress.
Padaca, a former governor of Isabela province, was appointed by the President as a Comelec commissioner in October 2012 while Congress was on recess.
She replaced Commissioner Augusto Lagman for the term set to expire on February 2, 2018.
Brillantes said urgency to appoint a seventh commissioner may come only if the 2016 presidential polls draw near or if the vacancy will be prolonged.
“Probably, we will need a seventh member only when we need a tie breaker in coming up with decisions that are with 3-3 votes,” he said.
Brillantes said they will just wait for advisory from the President on Padaca’s replacement or reinstatement .
“They [Malacañang] are not required to advise us of their plans. We just wait on who they are going to appoint. We just go on with our work,” he added.
The Comelec is now composed of Brillantes and commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Christian Lim, Luie Guia and Al Parreno.